04 Jan, 2023
Study Guides

Anatomy of the Skeletal System


What is the skeletal system? The skeletal system is a network of bones and connective tissues that supports and protects the body’s organs and tissues. It also provides a framework for movement, allowing the body to move and change position.

Types of Bones

There are three types of bones in the human body: long bones and short bones. 

  • Long bones, such as the femur and tibia, are longer than they are wide and are found in the arms and legs. They provide support and leverage for movement. 
  • Short bones, such as the carpals and tarsals, are roughly cube-shaped and are found in the hands and feet. They provide stability and support.
  • Flat bones are thin and flat and are found in the skull, ribcage, and pelvis. They provide protection for internal organs and support for muscles. Examples of flat bones include the scapula, sternum, and pelvis.

Bone Structure

Bones are made up of several different tissues, including bone tissue, cartilage, and connective tissue. The bone tissue, or bone matrix, consists of living cells embedded in a hard, mineralized substance called hydroxyapatite. This gives bones their strength and hardness. Cartilage is a flexible, smooth tissue that covers the ends of bones and helps to cushion them. Connective tissue, such as tendons and ligaments, connects bones to other bones and tissues and helps to hold the body together.


Joints are the points where two bones meet. There are several different types of joints, including hinge joints, such as the elbow and knee, which allow for back and forth movement; ball and socket joints, such as the shoulder and hip, which allow for a wide range of movement in multiple planes; and pivot joints, such as the wrist and neck, which allow for rotational movement.

Skeletal System Disorders

 Several disorders can affect the skeletal system, including osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, and fractures. 

  • Osteoporosis is when the bones become weak and brittle, increasing the risk of fractures. 
  • Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that causes the cartilage in the joints to wear away, leading to pain and stiffness. 
  • Fractures are breaks in the bones that can be caused by trauma or overuse.


The skeletal system supports the entire body and provides protection to vital organs. Understanding the body mechanics of how bones can move, and what their purpose is can clue you into subtle fractures or other defects that may be noticed. While there is not a shortage of resources or guides to these things all over the internet, the list above is very concise and to the point over the main idea for this system. If you’re interested in additional resources, we have a brief study guide for all the main systems available for free, with even more available if you subscribe and create a paid account today